Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday, First Week of Lent: Exchanging Mercy

Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live? – Ezekial 18:21-28

Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:20-26

As humans, we like to go by the numbers. We ‘play the game of life’ and ‘score points’ with God. But I have learned He does not work this way. I am either going in the right or wrong direction and any deeds done in the past will not alter my course. However, I can turn around and walk in the right direction by changing my heart. And when I choose to do so, God forgets the past. I am able to receive God’s forgiveness and mercy wholeheartedly.

Mercy is not a one-way street. It is more like a spiral inviting me to give it as well. The root of the word, mercy, is merc, which means commerce or merchant. There is an implication of exchange in the word and action. I remember the relief I felt when I forgave my father for being an alcoholic. Although I thought it was too late because he had already passed, I was mistaken. He came to me in a dream filled with light and we embraced one another in reconciliation. Suddenly, I realized that he knew my forgiveness and mercy. It is like what Shakespeare said:

“The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes…”

The image of rain from heaven is perfect. After the rain waters the earth, it returns to the sky as water vapor and repeats the cycle of blessing.

All the water on earth
has always been on earth
or in earth’s atmosphere,
they say;
a circle of living water
giving life to the earth
and finding renewal in the sky.
Do I cool my feet in
water from Jacob’s well?
Do I bathe in water that
baptized Jesus?
Do I drink a tear
That Mary wept
at the foot of the cross?

Sharon Sullivan 

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